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19 September

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  • ambrois@xtra.co.nz
    Celtic and Old English Saints 19 September =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= * St. Theodore of Canterbury
    Message 1 of 14 , Sep 18, 2013
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      Celtic and Old English Saints 19 September

      * St. Theodore of Canterbury

      St. Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury
      Theodore, seventh Archbishop of Canterbury,
      born at Tarsus in Cilicia about 602;
      died at Canterbury 19 September, 690.

      A monk of the Greek Church, but not yet in Holy Orders, living at Rome
      in 667, when Pope Vitalian chose him for the See of Canterbury in place
      of Wighard, who had died before consecration. After receiving orders,
      Theodore was consecrated by the Pope himself, on 26 March, 668, and set
      out for England, but did not reach Canterbury until May, 669.

      The new primate found the English Church still suffering from the
      jealousies and bitterness engendered by the long Paschal controversy,
      only lately settled, and sadly lacking in order and organisation. The
      dioceses, coterminous with the divisions of the various kingdoms, were
      of unwieldy size, and many of then were vacant. Theodore, says Bede, at
      once "visited all the island, wherever the tribes of the Angles
      inhabited", and was everywhere received with respect and welcome. He
      made appointments to the vacant bishoprics, regularised the position of
      St. Chad, who may not have been duly consecrated, corrected all that was
      faulty, instituted the teaching of music and of sacred and secular
      learning, throughout the country, and had the distinction of being, as
      Bede specifically mentions, "the first archbishop whom all the English

      But there is another aspect, not so attractive...

      ........"Elsewhere, however, matters were not so benignly worked out.
      Theodore of Tarsus, on his arrival in 669, found it necessary to use
      forceful measures to quell the remnants of the Celtic heresy. Despite
      the direct and immediate effects of Whitby on the central Celtic house
      at Lindisfarne, it may be remembered that the Picts and Scots, including
      at this point the Columban motherhouse at Iona, remained unwilling to
      accept Roman orthodoxy. Theodore's 'Penitential' clearly announced his
      views on the issues. He recognised neither episcopal consecration nor
      baptism as performed by the Celtic Church. Eddius tells us that he
      insisted on reconsecrating Chad, "through every episcopal grade," and
      demanded the rebaptism of converts of the Celtic Church. He also ordered
      a year's penance for anyone receiving communion from Celtic priests.

      ........"The hostility along the Welsh and Cornish borders was apparently
      mutual. Aldhelm of Malmsbury wrote that the Welsh bishops considered the
      clergy of Rome to be excommunicated until they should individually
      perform forty days penance, and refused to pray with tthem or join them
      at meals. The leftovers of food touched by Roman priests were ordered
      thrown to swine so that Celtic Christians would not suffer spiritual
      contagion. Their vessels were to be purified with fire or sand,and they
      were to receive neither salutation nor the kiss of peace." Carol
      Neuman's "The Northumbrian Renaissance", Associated University Presses,
      N.J., 1987, ISBN: 0-941664-11-2.

      In 673 he convoked at Hertford the first synod of the whole province, an
      assembly of great importance as the forerunner and prototype of future
      English witenagemotes and parliaments.

      Going later to the court of the King of Northumbria, which country was
      entirely under the jurisdiction of St. Wilfrid, he divided it into four
      dioceses against the will of Wilfrid, who appealed to Pope Agatho. The
      pope's decision did not acquit Theodore of arbitrary and irregular
      action, although his plan for the subdivision of the Northumbrian
      diocese was carried out. For St. Cuthbert in 685, and in the following
      year he was fully reconciled to Wilfrid, who was restored to his See of
      York. Thus, before his death, which occurred five years later, Theodore
      saw the diocesan system of the English Church fully organised under his
      primatial and metropolitical authority. Stubbs emphasizes the immensely
      important work done by Theodore not only in developing a single united
      ecclesiastical body out of the heterogeneous Churches of the several
      English kingdoms, but in thus realising a national unity which was not
      to be attained in secular matters for nearly three centuries.

      Apart from the epoch-making character of his twenty-one years'
      episcopate, Theodore was a man of commanding personality: inclined to be
      autocratic, but possessed of great ideas, remarkable powers of
      administration, and intellectual gifts of a high order, carefully

      Through the prayers of St Theodore and of all the Saints of Britain,
      Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us!

      Practically his only literary remains are the collected decisions in
      disciplinary matters, well known as "The Penitential of Theodore". The
      body of canon law drawn up under his supervision, and his structure of
      dioceses and parishes, survived the turmoil of the sixteenth and
      seventeenth centuries and are substantially intact today. It was first
      published complete by Wasserschleben in 1851, and several editions of it
      have been printed during the past sixty years.

      He founded a school at Canterbury that trained Christians from both the
      Celtic and the Roman traditions, and did much to unite the two groups.
      The school was headed by Adrian, an abbot born in Africa but later
      resident in Italy, who had been the Pope's first choice for Archbishop,
      but who had refused and recommended Theodore instead. Adrian was learned
      in the
      Scriptures, a good administrator, and fluent in Latin and Greek. The
      school taught Bible, theology and sacred studies, Latin and Greek (Bede
      says that some of the students knew these languages as well as they knew
      English), poetry, astronomy, and calendar calculation (of some
      importance for political reasons, as stated above, in the paschal

      Theodore was buried in St. Augustine's Monastery, Canterbury, a long
      poetical epitaph, of which Bede has preserved only eight verses, being
      inscribed upon his tomb.

      Icons of St. Theodore:


      Orthodox All-Night Vigil to Saint Theodore:

      "Theodore of Tarsus and the formation of a distinctive British Church,

      Part 1:

      Part 2:

      Prayer (Sarum Liturgy):
      Almighty God, who didst call thy servant Theodore from Tarsus to Rome
      to the see of Canterbury, and didst give him gifts of grace and wisdom
      to establish unity where there had been division, and order where
      there had been chaos: Create in thy Church, we pray, by the operation
      of the Holy Spirit, such godly union and concord that it may proclaim,
      both by word and example, the Gospel of the Prince of Peace; who
      liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever
      and ever.

      These Lives are archived at:
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